We have been taught in our American culture that only the best will do. We want the best things in life for ourselves and our loved ones. But if that is put paid to in our thinking, it only takes a moment to realize that we ONLY GET ONE BEST IN LIFE. We only get one single best game of chess, tennis, sunset, romantic evening, camping trip, steak dinner, and for our purposes in lifting, one best personal record. You may continue to have more " bests" as you are climbing the ladder of strength, but YOU WILL INEVITABLY TOP OUT SOMETIME! And that becomes your best.

I hope you are still finding out what the top end is for you in many parts of your life. But once you find it, or have it, it STANDS. Your all-time #1. You can still do that activity, but you will continue to do so at a lower and lower level. You begin to move away from your "best" in the same manner that you approached it. This is normal and natural. It is the nature of the way things work. It is not open for discussion.

This is exceptionally hard for those of us that are post-prime. Even if you are not at this point, you can easily imagine what it feels like and probably do gymnastics and cartwheels mentally to avoid thinking about it. I did. But it comes to us all. However, I have a solution for you. You DO NOT have to be relegated to "old glory days" thinking and bittersweet reminiscence.

The move is to reframe it all. It is true that we only get one best of everything, but that is not enough for me! If I constantly compare myself to the single most glorious shining moment that I've ever had (let's say in lifting for the example), I am forever falling short. On my way up to it, I am encouraged but still below it and climbing, and if I'm post-prime it is behind me and I'm below it again. I only HAVE IT for one day! NOT ENOUGH, I SAY!

I don't like the thought that I spend one day at my very best, then literally every single day of the rest of my somewhere below it. So, although I can BE MY BEST BUT ONLY ONCE, yet I can TRY MY BEST every day! I only get one best day. But I get to GIVE MY BEST EVERY DAY!

The way to constantly get the deep satisfaction that you feel when you are at your best, or peak, you can do by making the commitment to DO YOUR BEST AT THE MOMENT. This way you can touch the inner reward of fulfillment on the inside. Even if the RESULT is less, the EFFORT is not! You can believe me now, or believe me later, but the outside rewards and records and accomplishments won't really satisfy. They are fleeting.

Oh, don't misunderstand me, they're WORTH IT, by God, they just don't last like the inside ones do. And you don't have to BE AT YOUR BEST to feel that. You only must DO YOUR BEST. This has been my salvation from the "fall from grace." When you are at the highest level of something, it is a long way down! I had "the sickness."

JM Best (1)

Bodybuilders and Fitness competitors taught me about it. When someone gets REALLY, REALLY lean, they peak and do their show. But IMMEDIATELY after the show, they gain some body fat back pronto. They are still in great shape, but they feel fat! They will not give up the comparison of the best day they ever had to the ordinary days of life. In their mind they are stuck thinking they "should" look the way they did on stage in peak condition year round! This is delusional and can lead one to body dysmorphia, anorexia, etc. A sickness.

The same can easily be applied to strength athletes. But at one point or another, every one of us will say with the Bluesmen, "I can't do what I used to could." And it is not as wonderful on the self esteem as it was gaining all that strength in the first place. But this has NO BEARING on a decision to pursue excellence daily. One can release the "must BE my best" mentality and foster a "must DO my best" mindset. This will allow for a sense of achievement every day that you give it your all.

I was missing that because I was caught up comparing myself at my prime to my ability and capacity now. I'll tell you, it was not favorable! But I trained hard today and felt that I could not have done better. How do you suppose I felt after freeing myself of the insane comparison to me at my prime? I asked myself if I did my best today. And my answer was the affirmative.

By attempting my best in each workout, or as many as I possibly can, the opportunity to feel the same reward of knowing I did not hold one ounce back is afforded me. And you. You will still have your very best lifts. But you only get one true "best" in your whole life.

If that's enough for you or you choose to be chained to that brief moment for your satisfaction and deny yourself fulfillment unless you achieve a higher goal, you are STARVING YOURSELF OF LOTS OF GREAT INNER ACCOMPLISHMENTS AND THE PURSUANT REWARDS. You can have LOTS AND LOTS of these! I made the mistake of losing years, literally YEARS OF THESE.

Then I reframed my belief about what the "best" can mean for me. I am relishing my gym time again after a long, bitter self-loathing and bashing season. Just like the guys who are 10 percent body fat and feel like shit about themselves because they are not super lean, I was beating myself up for NOT BEING ABLE TO DO 10 REPS WITH 495 ON THE BENCH.

That was my strength marker each time I regained weight and returned up to the higher weight classes. I knew I was "strong" again. It was my safe place for confidence. It was my 4 percent body fat. I was (am perhaps) sick. This year is going to be VERY DIFFERENT.

I am already well under way to changing this perspective and having a ball in the gym again. I've had quite a good number of workouts that I honestly feel I've done my best. And I'm satisfied with that. I used to go around saying, "some say I'll do my best. I say I'll be the best." That served me when I was competing on the platform, but it no longer serves me and insists on a false competition with my old self. The realization that I am NOT competing with him has been a long time coming., but I am finally able to release my ego enough to embrace it. Perhaps you will too.

I do not know if this post will be helpful to a whole lot of people, but I do know that I wish someone had written it for me to read years ago. So, Happy New Year and I hope it is full of personal bests for you. But if you sit where I do, then I hope you feel the satisfaction of DOING your best every workout. It is enough.